A Great Cloud of Witnesses
One of the most interesting and most neglected traditions in the Episcopal church is the veneration of saints, those important and influential and holy people of the Christian faith. Each saint has his or her own day, and in the past, the church would celebrate that day with a service or with prayer. We have gotten out of that habit and that discipline. It is stories that draw people to the church, stories that we learned as children in Sunday school—stories of the Bible and stories of the saints. Stories of the saints are funny and sad and illuminating and fascinating. Like all things, saints go in and out of church favor.
The saint that comes to mind in February is, of course, Saint Valentine, a third century Roman priest martyred on February 14. He cured a judge’s daughter of blindness, but would not renounce Christianity, and so was condemned to death. While in prison awaiting death, legend has that he wrote a note to the daughter he cured and signed it “from your Valentine”. He is the patron saint of engaged couples, beekeepers, happy marriages, love, plague (we need him now!), and epilepsy.
I encourage you to read a story of a saint each month. Many have been removed from the “official” calendar, but their lives are still worthy and deserve to be remembered.